They’re Off in the next Archbishop’s Race

Just published by yours truly over at


The Revd Peter Ould marks your card

Let’s get some preliminaries out of the way. As regards selection, the Archbishop of Canterbury is selected by the Crown Nominations Commission which is made up of lay, clergy and bishop members elected by the General Synod, together with some other co-opted and appointed members. You can see the current list here, though it is likely to change before the appointment of Rowan’s Successor.

As far as I can see there is only one bookmaker, PaddyPower, who currently has a book open on this market. For another perspective, look at the poll we did over at The Twurch in September and see how the placings neatly match up! Let’s go through the list at PP and see what we make of the candidates.

John Sentamu…11/8

The bookies favourite and at 62 just about young enough to do the job till he’s 70. He’s been increasing his public profile in the past few months (helped by his PR whizz Kerron Cross) and his candidacy may very well hinge on the Church’s response to issues like Gender Neutral marriage – the more conservative and confrontational, the more Sentamu looks like the man to do the job. On top of this, to put it bluntly, the colour of his skin is a huge advantage for the Ugandan born Archbishop of York to translate to Lambeth Palace and represent not just the Church of England but the whole worldwide Anglican Communion.

Richard Chartres…7/2

Currently Bishop of London and passed over last time, backing Chartres is like throwing all your money on Ron Paul for the Presidency. It is almost inconceivable that a man who won’t ordain women will become the Primate of the Church of England in the first twelve months after they agree to have women bishops (which will very likely happen this summer). Not a hope.

Christopher Cocksworth…7/2

The Bishop of Coventry is where all the smart money is right now. The former Principal of the vicar factory Ridley College, he has just been appointed Chair of the Church’s Faith and Order Commission, the closest the CofE gets to an interpretative body on doctrine and practice. If you’re thinking reading that that it sounds important, you’d be absolutely right. On top of this, he’s liked across the theological spectrum. If Betfair were to open a market on this then I would see him giving Sentamu a run for his money for top spot.

Nick Baines…6/1

Media savvy Nick is a regular on Chris Evans’ Radio 2 show and he knows how to handle the press. However, he’s perceived by many on the more traditional and conservative side of the church to have drifted quite far from his Evangelical roots and it’s hard to see him getting the support this time round.

Justin Welby…9/1

Give the guy a chance – he’s only just taken over as Bishop of Durham from Tom Wright and before that he was just a Cathedral Dean.

Nicholas Thomas Wright…10/1

Justin Welby’s predecessor in Durham. An awesome academic theologian but, let’s be honest, a lousy administrator and manager. He left Durham to go back to Professorship and not even the Archangel Gabriel could convince him to go back into Church leadership.

Stephen Cottrell…12/1

If we were doing this piece in a decade’s time Stephen would be top of the list. The problem with his candidacy this time is not that he is a brilliant communicator and mission leader, but that the Church of England tends to alternate between liberals and conservatives for the occupant of Lambeth Palace. As by far the leading liberal candidate in the field, he just won’t be considered because it’s the other camp’s turn these days.

Amongst other names that might be thrown about is Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne and Theological Secretary of the Evangelical group “Fulcrum”. Graham however is only a “Suffragan” or assistant bishop at the moment – it would be a huge leap for him to go straight to Canterbury. If you were interested in a long shot, stick a tenner on Mike Hill at 20/1, currently Bishop of Bristol. Solidly Evangelical and very popular in the Charismatic camp, he could very well emerge as a compromise candidate if problems arose with the leaders in the race.

15 Comments on “They’re Off in the next Archbishop’s Race

  1. Peter–you are a modest man–if I were a betting man all my money would go on you! Bishop of the World Wide Web–its an obvious choice for our ‘virtual’ times.

  2. John Sentamu should be a shoo-in IMHO. He’s the highest profile evangelical and it’s their turn to get the top-of-the-tree mitre. He’s media friendly and principled, as well as a strong and hard working leader and administrator. What swings it for me though is that he’s the candidate that, if elected, will show that the CofE is still serious about the Anglican Communion. The CofE is in the process of rejecting the Anglican Covenant which will deal a massive blow to the idea that there is a worldwide church denomination called ‘Anglican’.

    The new Archbishop of Canterbury is going to have to do some serious fence-mending to keep the Anglican brand as a worldwide going concern. Not with the Episcopal Church of the USA of course – those guys have long been doing their own thing and are anyway in serious decline. But with the strong and growing evangelical Anglican churches of the two-thirds world, especially in Africa. That’s where the major work of the new ABoC will be needed – and no-one is better equipped than John Sentamu to do it.

  3. William Hill and Ladbrokes both have markets available. As an ex-Ridley man, I would definitely back Cocksworth. Respected across the theological spectrum, and at 7-1 at William Hill, excellent value.

  4. Rowan Williams has said that the next man to become Archbishop of Canterbury will need “the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros”.

    A propos nothing in particular, the rhinocerous comes from the two-thirds world with two out of its five species native to Africa. Cattle are also a central part of African culture and many African men are very proud of their fine herds of oxen and cows.

  5. I see that ‘Thinking Anglicans’ has got its dig in against the leading evangelical runner, John Sentamu, with an article on the retirement age for Bishops. (As an aside, don’t you just love the patrician condescension of a title like ‘Thinking Anglicans’ implying that only the theologically liberal think).

    • Presumably those brilliant intellectual heavyweights (sic) over at “Thinking” Anglicans would prefer a theologically revisionist candidate who can continue what most senior clergy since the war have treated as their most important mission: emptying the churches and undermining the faith, practice and morals of the Communion.

  6. ….and with a furlong to go its Johnnie Ebor in the lead closely followed by Crafty Chris….but who is this coming up on the rails? It’s Hampshire Tim, the yearling bred in Kenya! Hampshire Tim still look fresh, the others are going backwards…..yes Hampshire Tim wins it by a neck. A shock, last time I saw a surprise like this it was when Big George won in the early ’90’s. 

    • You are kidding. The man Dakin will have had his mitre for precisely seven months when Rowan retires – putting him up as a candidate is like letting a 17-year old lad with a provisional driving licence out with a McLaren F1 car

      • With deference to your family name, James, I’m not sure the C of E or Anglican Communion can really be compared to a F1 car.

        Bishop Tim won’t have worn purple for that long, but he’s got a lot of diverse leadership experience, and led CMS through through a period of considerable change. He’s got excellent international connections, experience and credibility, has a lot of spiritual depth, is a great preacher. He’s got what it takes on both the home and away front, and he’s an evangelical  – what’s not to like?

        (PS  I am not Tim Dakin, or a friend or relative in case you were wondering!)

          • Point taken, but I’m a little surprised he’s not even on the card, especially if the new Bishop of Durham is on it. Certainly on the international side +Tim has got vast experience.

          • Technically, I believe, the Pope can be chosen from any baptised (Catholic) man; he would be pope from the moment of his election before he received Holy Orders. And wasn’t Augustine rushed through Holy Orders so he could be elected bishop? If you believe in the Holy Spirit, as I assume you do, may It not be trying to get beyond the old-boy networks of the CNC and the bookies favourites with a new, untried for long  but fresh and promising voice as Eaglet2 suggests?

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